Friday, January 13, 2012

how much the horse sweat

I read the line last night ... from Eizan Goto Roshi, current abbot of Ryutakuji Monastery in Japan:

In the past, people did not know how much the horse had sweat. 
On the face of it, the line sounds very Tao-Te-Ching, very Chinese-fortune-cookie, very much like other Nachos in the mind ... a salty bit of flavor soon chewed and quickly swallowed. Forgotten without a backward glance, washed down with a cooling sip of beer that is the present.

But when you think about it -- look around in your own particular life -- it's just the god's honest truth, don't you think? Which of us ever knew the effort and error, laughter and tears that brought about the current situation, whatever that situation may be. The house we live in, the parents we had, the bank account we keep, the lives we have led, the computer screen we read, the children we spawned, the accolades and catcalls we engendered, the wars we fought, the peace treaties we signed ...? We may say, "I did that," but even in our own lives and in our own doing, we do not know how much the horse sweat. We may wish to be wise and perhaps don the mantle of caring about the horse's effort, but wisdom slips away despite our best or most solemn efforts. It is the way things actually happen.

We are thinking and believing animals. And...

No one can think their way to freedom, no matter how great the genius or how numerous the awards.

No one can believe their way to peace, no matter how sweet the shuck and jive of religious institutions.

But, just because no one can think their way to freedom or believe their way to peace, this does not mean there is no such thing as freedom or no such thing peace.

All the sweat in the world assures nothing.

But we can sweat.


  1. Genkaku, where did you find that sentence? I can hardly find anything by or about Eizan Goto.

    He is mentioned a couple of times on the web site of the Granite Mountain Zen Group located in London Also on that site is the eBook "A Taste of Zen" by Tom Chetwynd which also mentions Eizan Goto a few times.

    I found a talk by one Eizan Goto, Zen Master, delivered 2001 to the Japan Finland Design Association:
    Commemorative Speech: "Heart of the Quietness".

    - Frank

    "Keep Calm and Carry On."
    (British Zen?)

  2. Frank -- Since I've been working on the Internet version of "Remembering Nakagawa Soen Roshi," I stole it from a last page that will be appended in the Internet effort -- a thank-you letter from Eizan Goto ... thanks for the copies of the book sent in 2008 to Ryutakuji.

    1. Thanks. I look forward to seeing that site.